Diahann Carroll

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Diahann Carroll
photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955
BornCarol Diahann Johnson
(1935-07-17) July 17, 1935 (age 78)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress and singer
Years active1954–present
Spouse(s)Vic Damone (1987–1996)
Robert DeLeon (1975–1977)
Fredde Glusman (1973–1973)
Monte Kay (1956–1963)
Children1 child: Suzanne Kay Bamford
Jump to: navigation, search
Diahann Carroll
photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955
BornCarol Diahann Johnson
(1935-07-17) July 17, 1935 (age 78)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress and singer
Years active1954–present
Spouse(s)Vic Damone (1987–1996)
Robert DeLeon (1975–1977)
Fredde Glusman (1973–1973)
Monte Kay (1956–1963)
Children1 child: Suzanne Kay Bamford

Diahann Carroll (/dˈæn ˈkær.əl/; born July 17, 1935) is an American television and stage actress and singer. She has had a long, successful career that has spanned nearly six decades.

After appearing in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts such as Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959), she starred in Julia (1968), one of the first series on American television to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Later she created the role of Dominique Deveraux on the popular prime time soap opera, Dynasty.

She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations. Carroll has been married four times and became the mother of a daughter in 1960. She is a breast cancer survivor and activist.

Early years[edit]

Carroll was born Carol Diahann Johnson in Bronx, New York, to John Johnson, of Aiken, South Carolina, and Mabel (Faulk),[1] of Bladenboro, North Carolina. When Carroll was an infant, the family moved to Harlem, where she grew up. She attended Music & Art High School, along with schoolmate Billy Dee Williams. In many interviews about her childhood, Diahann Carroll recalls her parents' support of her and that they enrolled her in dance, singing and modeling classes. By the time Diahann Carroll was 15, she was modeling for Ebony magazine. She stood 6 ft and had a lean build. After graduating from high school, Diahann Carroll attended New York University, majoring in sociology.


At the age of 18, Carroll got her big break when she appeared as a contestant on the Dumont Television Network program, Chance of a Lifetime, Hosted by Dennis James. On the show which aired Friday, January 8, 1954, Carroll took the $1,000 top prize on the strength of her rendition of the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein song, "Why Was I Born?" She went on to win the following four weeks. Engagements at Manhattan's Café Society[citation needed] and Latin Quarter nightclubs soon followed.[2]

Carroll's film debut was a supporting role in Carmen Jones (1954) as a friend of the sultry lead character. She then starred in the Broadway musical, House of Flowers. In 1959, she played Clara in the film version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but her character's singing parts were dubbed by opera singer Loulie Jean Norman. She made a guest star appearance in the series Peter Gunn, in the episode "Sing a Song of Murder" in 1960. She starred with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the 1961 film Paris Blues. In 1962, she won the Tony Award for best actress (a first for a black woman) for the role of Barbara Woodruff in the Samuel A. Taylor and Richard Rodgers musical No Strings. In 1974, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Claudine.

Carroll and Sammy Davis, Jr. on The Hollywood Palace, 1968.

Carroll is known for her title role in the 1968 television series Julia, which made her the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker. That role won her the Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress In A Television Series" in 1968,[3] and a nomination for an Emmy Award in 1969 (thus, according to TV Guide, becoming the first African-American to earn an Emmy nomination [4]). Some of her earlier work included appearances on shows hosted by Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, Judy Garland and Ed Sullivan, and on The Hollywood Palace variety show.

In 1984, Carroll joined the nighttime soap opera Dynasty as the jetsetter Dominique Deveraux, half-sister of Blake Carrington (played by actor John Forsythe). Her high profile role on Dynasty also reunited her with actor Billy Dee Williams, who briefly played her onscreen husband Brady Lloyd. Carroll remained on the show until 1987, simultaneously making several appearances on its short-lived spin-off, The Colbys. She received her third Emmy nomination in 1989 for the recurring role of Marion Gilbert in A Different World.

In 1991, Carrol played the role of Eleanor Potter, the wife of Jimmy Potter (Chuck Patterson), in "The Five Heartbeats," a musical drama film in which Jimmy is the manager of the group. In this role Carroll was a doting, concerned, and protective wife. She starred alongside actor and musician Robert Towsend, Leon Michael Wright, and others. In 1996 Carroll starred as the crazed silent movie star Norma Desmond in the Canadian production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of the classic film Sunset Boulevard.

In 2006, she appeared in the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy as Jane Burke, the demanding mother of Dr. Preston Burke. In December 2008, Carroll was cast in USA Network’s series White Collar as June, the savvy widow who rents out her guest room to Neal Caffrey.[5] In 2010, Carroll was featured in UniGlobe Entertainment's breast cancer docudrama entitled, 1 a Minute, [6] and appeared as Nana in two Lifetime Movies: At Risk and The Front, movie adaptations of two Patricia Cornwell novels.

Diahann Carroll was present on stage for the 2013 Emmy Awards, to briefly speak about her retrospective of being, supposedly, the first African-American, nominated for a Primetime Emmy Awards. She was quoted as saying "talented Kerry Washington, better win!" Washington erroneously stated that Carroll was the first black performer ever to be nominated for an Emmy. Actually, at least three black performers were nominated before Carroll (who was first nominated in 1963). These performers include Ethel Waters (for a guest appearance on Route 66, in 1962),[7] Harry Belafonte (nominated first in 1956, then winning an award in 1960, and then nominated again in 1961) [8] and Sammy Davis, Jr.,[9] who along with Belafonte, was nominated in 1956, thus making Davis and Belafonte the first African-Americans nominated for an Emmy Award.

Carroll will return to the Broadway stage in the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun playing the role of Mama.

Personal life[edit]

Carroll married four times, first to record producer Monte Kay. The union produced a daughter, Suzanne Kay Bamford (born September 9, 1960), who became a freelance media journalist.

In 1973, Carroll surprised the press by marrying Las Vegas boutique owner Fred Glusman. Several weeks later, she filed for divorce, charging Glusman with physical abuse. In 1975, she married Robert DeLeon, a managing editor of Jet magazine. She was widowed two years later when DeLeon was killed in a car crash.[10] Carroll's fourth and final marriage was to singer Vic Damone in 1987. The union, which Carroll admitted was turbulent, saw a legal separation in 1991, reconciliation, and divorce in 1996.[11][12] Carroll for a time also dated and was engaged to British television host and producer David Frost.



  • Chance of a Lifetime (1954) (four consecutive weeks as a contestant)
  • The Red Skelton Hour (1954)
  • Peter Gunn (1960) as Dina Wright in episode "Sing a Song of Murder"
  • The Man in the Moon (1960)
  • The Garry Moore Show (1960) (Recurring for several weeks)
  • Naked City (1962) as Ruby Jay in episode "A Horse Has a Big Head – Let Him Worry!"
  • The Eleventh Hour (1963) as Stella Young in episode "And God Created Vanity"
  • The Judy Garland Show – Episode #21 (1964)
  • Frank Sinatra-A Man And His Music Television Special (1968)
  • Julia (1968–1971)
  • The Diahann Carroll Show (1976)
  • The Love Boat (1977) as 'Roxy Blue,' a jazz superstar who has a brief, shipboard fling with Isaac the bartender in episode, "Isaac the Groupie."
  • Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) as Mermeia Holographic Wow
  • Dynasty (cast member from 1984–1987)
  • The Colbys (recurring guest star 1985–1986)
  • From the Dead of Night (1989)
  • A Different World (1989–1993)



  • Diahann Carroll Sings Harold Arlen Songs (1957)
  • Best Beat Forward (1958)
  • The Persian Room Presents Diahann Carroll (1959)
  • Porgy and Bess (1959) (with the André Previn Trio)
  • Diahann Carroll and the André Previn Trio (1960)
  • Fun Life (1961)
  • Modern Jazz QuartetThe Comedy (1962)
  • Showstopper! (1962)
  • The Fabulous Diahann Carroll (1963)
  • A You're Adorable: Love Songs for Children (1967)
  • Nobody Sees Me Cry (1967)
  • Diahann Carroll (1974)
  • A Tribute to Ethel Waters (1978)
  • The Time of My Life (1997)


Awards and nominations[edit]



  1. ^ "Diahann Carroll Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  2. ^ Johnson, John H., ed. (April 15, 1954). "N.Y. singer Diahann Carroll finds Cinderella-like fame". Jet (Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company) 5 (23): 60–61. 
  3. ^ "Diahann Carroll". TheGoldenGlobes.com. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  4. ^ http://www.tvguide.com/news/diahann-carroll-emmys-behind-1071165.aspx
  5. ^ Matt Mitovich (December 2, 2008). "Diahann Carroll Collars Role on USA Pilot". TV Guide. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  6. ^ "McG | Indian Star Rallies Celebrity Support For Cancer Movie". Contactmusic.com. 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0914083/awards?ref_=nm_awd
  8. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000896/awards?ref_=nm_awdand
  9. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002035/awards?ref_=nm_awd
  10. ^ Alan Feuer; William K. Rashbaum (12 March 2005). "Blood Ties: 2 Officers' Long Path to Mob Murder Indictments". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  11. ^ Elizabeth Rourke (2006). "Diahann Carroll: Biography". Contemporary Black Biography. The Gale Group, Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  12. ^ Diahann Carroll "Diahann Carroll: Biography, Photos, Movies, TV, Credits". Hollywood.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  13. ^ "Past Recipients: Crystal Award". Women In Film. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Past Recipients". Wif.org. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 

External links[edit]